Curated Session: Smart Technologies
Tackling Wasted Food with Smart Technology
Monday, September 25, 2017
15:30 – 16:30
In 2015, the UN announced a very ambitious, sustainable development goal of reducing food loss and waste by half by the year 2030. Innovations along the food supply chain will be critical to reducing wasted food, facilitating reuse by people and animals, and recycling energy and nutrients to meet this goal. The speakers in this session will highlight how adoption of smart technologies—including social media platforms, the Internet of bins, and big data—is creating new economic opportunities to reduce and reuse wasted food and increase recycling.
We will bring together speakers from organizations and companies representing new and innovative uses of information and communications technology (ICT) to reduce food waste. The session will follow the structure of the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy of reduction (preventing wasted food at the source), reuse (donating wasted food leftovers) and recycling (as energy or nutrient products following processing).
Between 30–40% of food is wasted in countries throughout the world, which results in a tremendous loss of wasted resources, as well as of opportunities to feed hungry people. As a result, the UN established in 2015 a sustainable development goal of “halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level, and reduce food losses along production and supply chains by 2030”. The U.S. has adopted this target for itself.
This is a very ambitious goal, given current technologies as well as the structure of the food and waste sector. However, much innovation is occurring in the application of information and communications technology (ICT) all along the food supply (and food/waste) chain. The adoption of these smart technologies is creating new economic opportunities to reduce food waste and increase food waste recycling back into the production as energy and nutrients following processing via composting or anaerobic digestion.
In this session, we will bring together speakers from organizations and companies representing new and innovative uses of smart technologies to reduce food waste. The session will follow the structure of the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy of reduction (preventing wasted food at the source), reuse (donating wasted food leftovers) and recycling (as energy or nutrient products following processing).
The Environmental Law Institute has launched a new food waste blog series. Its first three blogs look at the role of smart tech—the “Internet of bins”, big data, social media platforms—to accelerate achieving the three “Rs” in the EPA food recovery hierarchy: Reduction (preventing wasted food at the source), Reuse (donating wasted food leftovers) and Recycling (as energy or nutrient products following processing).
Technologies to be covered include:
- Preventing food waste: (a) measurement technologies to estimate quantity, type and value of food waste each day, and inform waste reduction strategies, in some cases linked to the use of onsite processors that create concentrated and more homogenous feedstock slurries for more efficient off-site processing; (b) virtual coordination of secondary markets; (c) improved inventory control systems, including improved coordination of ordering and improved tracking and management of perishables in transit.
- Donation: online social media platforms linked with databases connecting suppliers of edible food with hunger organizations in need, in some cases coordinated with transportation on a fee-basis or by volunteers.
- Recycling: “smart” bins with ICT that allows for dynamic route optimization, truck diagnostics, and debit payment systems; as well as weight-based PAYT pricing (potentially differentiated by waste type) to incentivize generators to reduce waste.